The eighth annual Mammoth Cave Restoration Field Camp was held on August 11 -17, 1996. The official start was as usual at supper time on Sunday evening. After the meal introductions were made and Bob Ward, the Park Cultural Resource Specialist, outlined the projects for this years camp. Norm Rogers was again the Field Camp Coordinator.
We started the camp on the same day as the annual Church Revisited program. This is a recreation of past church services held in the cave. This was held in the Methodist Church area of the cave starting about 8:15 PM and ending about 9 PM. Many of the Field Camp participants took the opportunity to attend this inspiring event.
Monday, the project for today began with four people heading to the elevator entrance with tools while the remainder entered the Carmichael Entrance. All would meet at Ole Bull's Concert Hall where two Echo River Tour boats (or if you prefer 4 half boats) had been stored. A prior weekend trip had moved the boats from near Cascade Hall and our project was to remove them the rest of the way out of the cave.
We drilled holes in the boats air tanks to drain out any remaining water then moved them about a quarter mile by dragging, lifting and carrying them to the last point in the passage where power was available. At this location the boat halves were cut into three sections with an electric saw then carried out to a staging area near the elevator. We encountered problems with the saw on the last half boat and it was left to be finished when the saw was repaired. By about 3 PM the cut up sections had been moved to the staging area and work for today was completed.
Tuesday, today's projects saw six people start the lint removal project on Broadway while the remainder headed to Echo River for wood removal. Due to the success of prior wood removal efforts and the increased silting of the area the wood removal project met with little success. Very little wood was found and removed. After lunch the river rats proceeded to remove some remaining handrails at Echo River and all wood and handrails were removed to an area just outside the gate at the Historic entrance.
Wednesday, four people went to the Doyle Valley entrance (a 60 foot pit) with Rick Olsen while the rest went to continue lint removal on Broadway. The Doyle Valley crew did flowstone cleaning with the assistance of a 2000 gallon pumper truck from the Cave City Fire Department. This was a real hose job, stringing fire hose down the pit and hosing off formations. On Broadway about 1000 feet of passage was cleaned of lint for a distance of 3 feet from each side of the trail. This ended at near the Corkscrew. Following dinner a trip to Great Onyx Cave was enjoyed by many of the camp participants.
Thursday, the entire crew went to Horse Cave, Ky. to assist the ACCA with landscaping and wall building at the entrance to Hidden River Cave. We built about 20 feet of a stone wall along the trail to the cave continuing the project started by others on prior. Rigged off the fence at the street level Larry Bundy trimmed brush. Others groomed the flower beds at the entrance. This project was finished about noon and some of the group took the afternoon to explore the cave while others went shopping or saw other tourist attractions. It was noted during the morning that cigarette lighters would not function on the sinkhole floor and it was necessary to go 15 to 20 feet above the floor to get them to light. Those working in the sinkhole did not have any significant problem with what was an obvious lowered oxygen level. Those who went on the afternoon exploration trip did experience some increased shortness of breath and heightened anxiety levels. It would appear that there was a lack of air circulation in the sink and cave on this day.
Friday, was a clean up day with a small crew going to the Historic Entrance to remove tools and material from the lint removal activities and also the river clean up debris at the entrance (most of which had already been removed by the maintenance people). The remainder went to the elevator entrance to finish cutting up the last boat section in El Ghor and removal of all the pieces up the elevator and onto a waiting trailer. A small crew started trail clean up at Ole Bull's Concert Hall to remove any traces of the grooves and aluminum skid marks left on the passage floor from dragging the boats down the passage. Work for this year was completed about 2 PM.
Saturday, reward trips into Roppel Cave were conducted consisting of an easy 4 hour trip (that wasn't quite as easy as some had anticipated) and a harder 7 hour trip that included some quite beautiful passage and gypsum formations.